Classification and Compensation Study

For the full Frequently Asked Questions document, Click Here.

To view the Pre-Recorded Orientation Session, Click Here. 

Orientation Presentation, Download Here.

PDQ Forms:  Electronic Version or Print and Fill Version.

What is the Purpose of the Study?

Phase I is the classification study. The goal of this phase is to study the District’s positions and the typical job duties that each performs, and to develop up-to-date classification descriptions that are legally compliant, internally aligned, reflective of contemporary standards, and accurately reflect current roles, responsibilities, duties, and qualifications.

After completing Phase I, we will begin Phase II which is the compensation study. Utilizing the updated class descriptions developed in Phase I, we will collect salary data from the District’s labor market to provide the District with useful information about how the bodies of work of the District’s positions are compensated in the labor market.

What is a Classification Study?

The main goal of a classification study is to develop an equitable, reliable, and competitive classification system that supports the District’s mission; promotes equity by accurately aligning classifications and assignments; fosters the attraction and retention of qualified individuals; and provides opportunities for employee growth and development.

Information will be collected from positions which are representative of the work performed by each of the District’s classifications, and a classification structure and classification descriptions will be developed based on analysis of the information collected from District employees, supervisors, and managers.

Why is a Classification Study Important?

Over time, an agency’s classification system needs updating. Factors such as operational, program, technological, regulatory, and staffing changes typically result in class specifications becoming misaligned from the actual nature, level, and scope of work performed by incumbents. Through a classification study, the services provided by the consultant will assist the District to achieve the following objectives and expected outcomes:

  • An analysis and development of a position classification system and policy for classifying work in order to promote internal equities dictated by actual responsibilities of the position.
  • A catalog of class specifications that accurately classifies the work assigned to positions; identifies the core knowledge and abilities required to successfully perform the work; and reflects management’s approach to organizing work.
  • An analysis to assess the nature, level, and scope of work currently performed by incumbents; and recommendations to accurately align incumbents within the new classifications.
  • Visual career paths to provide clarity on career mobility at the District.
  • An equitable and simple to administer classification system that supports the District’s mission, vision, and values.

The final work product will be an integrated organizational structure that will allow for internal equity, potential future agency growth, employee career growth, and effective customer service delivery.

A classification study also reviews an organization’s positions to determine the proper grouping of positions into classifications (i.e., job titles). This process involves the development of new classifications (if applicable), elimination of outdated classifications (if applicable), and collapsing classifications within similar functional areas (as appropriate).

What is a Compensation Study?

The main goal of a compensation study is to develop an equitable, reliable, and competitive compensation system that supports the District’s mission; promotes equity by accurately aligning classifications and pay; fosters the attraction and retention of qualified individuals; and provides opportunities for employee growth and development.

The compensation study will survey base salary competitiveness using a set of appropriate comparator agencies. The goal is to determine compensation system based on the external labor market for classifications that are similar to those at the District. Once the external data development is completed, specific recommendations will be made for internal equity for all positions.

Why is a Compensation Study Important?

The compensation study will contain specific recommendations regarding a salary schedule and the integration of all classifications into a clearly designed, internally equitable format that is flexible for career opportunity and future growth.

Through a compensation study, the services provided by the consultant will assist the District to achieve the following objectives and expected outcomes:

  • An analysis and development of a compensation plan and policy to promote proper internal equities and competitive pay relationships with comparator agencies.
  • Visual career paths to provide clarity on career mobility at the District.
  • An equitable and simple to administer compensation system that supports the District’s mission, vision, and values.

How Long Will It Take to Complete the Study?

A classification and compensation study for an agency of the District’s size will take approximately eight (8) months to complete, allowing for adequate position description questionnaire completion, interview time, class description development, compensation data collection and analysis, review steps by the District and stakeholders, the development of final reports and recommendations, any appeals, and presentations.

What Kind of Participation Will Be Expected from Employees?

The participation of employees is crucial to the integrity and success of any classification and compensation study. The process will be very transparent, and the study will be conducted with an open book. All stakeholders will receive the same information and we have built several employee “touchpoints” into our methodology at which we will ask employees to review and give feedback regarding our work.

The first “touchpoint” with employees is the start of the study when employees are invited to participate in orientation meetings, where we will go over the study process, its various steps, and milestones, and explain our expectations of employee collaboration.

How Will You Gather Information About the District’s Positions?

We will obtain classification data based on employee input on work performed by a at least a representative sample of positions in each classification. Incumbents of these positions will be asked to complete a Position Description Questionnaire (PDQ). PDQs describe the position’s duties, responsibilities, required knowledge and abilities, and minimum requirements for education, experience, and any certifications and/or licenses. Supervisors and managers will be asked to review employees’ PDQs for concurrence and to provide their perspective on the body of work.

Interviews with employees, supervisors, and managers will occur to clarify information and gain organizational context.

K&A will utilize the data gathered from the PDQs and interviews to update the classification descriptions. The draft class descriptions will be presented to the District and employees for review and concurrence.

What If the Market Survey Shows That I’m Currently Overpaid?

We have never encountered a situation where an Agency made the decision to reduce anyone’s salary. Depending on how long it has been since the last compensation study, current salaries may be out of alignment with the external labor market, and it is likely that some salaries are below, and some are above market.

If the market data shows that any position is paid above market, the employee’s salary is typically frozen until the market catches up with it. However, there are other options that the District may consider, such as “grand-fathering” current employees’ salary ranges out of the system through natural attrition.

What Are the Components of a Compensation Study?

This study will be collecting data on total compensation. There are two (2) elements or variables that need to be determined before conducting the base salary compensation study: 1) which comparator agencies to use; and 2) which classifications to “benchmark” for the study (i.e., which classifications to survey in the labor market). Our recommended methodology is to involve the various stakeholders in this process so that there is buy-in from all sides as to the fairness and appropriateness of these elements.

My Job Is Really Unique and You Won’t Find It in the Market – What Now?

If we cannot identify at least four (4) “matches” for any of the benchmark classifications, we won’t be able to conduct a sound statistical analysis of the data. In that case, we rely on internal relationships between classifications that have the same or similar “value” to the organization. We will conduct an internal analysis to determine the likeness of classifications by looking at various factors related to the nature of each classification (very similar to the analysis we do when collecting external market data).

Will the Consultant Consider Performance or Workload for This Study?

For purposes of a classification study, we are only interested in what the work is and not how well or poorly someone may be performing it or how much of the same type of work someone performs. Performance and workload are internal management issues that K&A will not address. This means that we will not recommend the addition or elimination of any positions at the District. 

What Will the Final Results of the Study Look Like?

The classification and compensation study findings and recommendations will be documented in a series of reports and supporting documentation. Class descriptions will be revised and updated, and each classification will then be assigned to an appropriate salary range. We will also make recommendations for implementation strategies so that we can deliver a product that the District can implement and maintain long after our work is completed. All documents and reports will be developed in several drafts before final reports are prepared and submitted to the District.

When will the results of the classification and compensation study be implemented? Will the adjustments be retroactive?

Once the results are received from Koff & Associates, the District will review and determine how to proceed with the recommendations.

Will I Have the Chance to Ask Questions Before the Study Begins?

We will be conducting a series of orientation sessions prior to beginning the study that employees will be invited to attend during which we will provide an overview of the study, and you will be given the opportunity to ask questions at that time.


All employees will be asked to complete a PDQ. Below is a list of commonly asked questions related to completing the PDQ and K&A’s responses.

Who should complete a PDQ?

All regular full-time and part-time employees should complete a PDQ. For vacant positions, the immediate supervisor or manager should complete a PDQ for the vacant position.

Is completion of the PDQ mandatory?

The completion of the PDQ is not mandatory, however, K&A strongly encourages employees to complete one because comprehensive studies of this nature occur very infrequently. This study will shape the District’s classification system for several years, and K&A believes that employees should have a voice in classification studies by providing their written documentation on the work they perform, since they have the most direct knowledge of that work. The opportunity to provide that level of information is during the PDQ process.

Why does the PDQ have so many sections?

This PDQ is designed for all jobs in any organization; some sections, such as 10, 11 and 12, have several options because not all jobs have the same sensory and physical requirements, nor do they all work in the same environment. In addition, all of these sections are used to develop comprehensive classification specifications for a diverse range of jobs.

Should I complete the PDQ all at once – or come back to it in stages?

We recommend that you complete it in stages – do the easy sections first, and that will allow you time to strategize how you will complete the more complicated sections.

How long does it take to complete a PDQ?

We estimate it should take about two to four hours to complete. If you find yourself stuck on a certain section, please let Human Resources know and if needed, K&A can provide some guidance on how to complete it.

Should I collaborate with my supervisor when completing the PDQ?

We recommend that you independently complete the PDQ without your supervisor’s input. That individual will have an opportunity to provide any needed feedback on the specific section of the PDQ designed for that purpose.

If I report to a contractor, who should I submit my PDQ to for the first level supervisor review?

Please submit the PDQ to your department head for review and comment.